It came down to a three-man race for the title of Cowichan Valley Regional District Board chair on Wednesday night.
Nominated for the role were 2015 chair and North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure, Area I (Youbou/Meade Creek) director Klaus Kuhn, and Area F (Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls) director Ian Morrison.
In his pre-vote speech Lefebure outlined the issues the board has faced and work they’ve undertaken over the last year, including the difficulty surrounding the contaminated soil issues in Shawnigan Lake, the contentious Alternative Approval Process, ongoing watershed management initiatives, budgeting and others. He said more work needs to be done.
“This has been an interesting year,” he said. “I have enjoyed my time as board chair and hope to do it again but if someone else is chosen I will make every effort to help them being successful.”
Kuhn said he ran for chair in an effort to change the way the board interacts with the public.
“It doesn’t matter how we see ourselves. What is important is how the public sees us and more important, how the public perceives us and I think there’s a big gap between how we see ourselves and how that public sees us,” he said. “There’s a gap because we haven’t done the proper job to educate the public or to be in contact with the public or to further the public in any decisions that were faced. So what happened is a kind of credibility gap and we are fighting that gap and we are in the defensive and we’ve been in the defensive on the board for much too long as much as I can see.”
Morrison’s reasons for running, he said, fell somewhere in between Lefebure and Kuhn.
He wanted to see a more cohesive board, improved community engagement, less talk and more action on substantive change, and an enhanced role for what he sees as the under-utilization of the vice chair.
“You’ve seen that I’m willing to look at new ideas. You know I always come prepared. You know I understand the organization and the staff and the role,” Morrison said.
“So I’m willing to be a full time chair; as chair the door will always be open. As chair my phone will always be on so I respectfully ask you for your support and your vote.”
Presiding over the meeting in the absence of an elected chair, corporate secretary Joe Barry explained that new this year was a question period in which directors could grill the candidates on their ideas and philosophies prior to the vote.
Directors took the opportunity to do so, using the entire half hour allowed to them.
Barry also noted a new digital voting system that uses “iclicker” technology and does away with paper ballots.
Still secret ballot, the difference is, he explained, that “directors can indicate right away who their choice is.”
The final numbers had never before been announced.
When the dust settled, the first vote had Lefebure on top with six votes and Kuhn and Morrison with four each. But eight votes are required to win so after a tiebreaker pitting Kuhn against Morrison, Morrison came out on top. He then faced off against Lefebure in the final round.
Lefebure ultimately won by a 10 to four score.
It was all or nothing for Morrison, however as he was later nominated for vice chair but declined the nomination.
Both just one-year into their terms with the CVRD, Town of Lake Cowichan director Bob Day and Area A (Malahat/Mill Bay) director Kerry Davis allowed for their hats to be thrown in the vice chair ring.
Day took the role with a 10 to four score. The new appointments will last for a one year term.